Rhubarb, strawberry and meringue cake
I must say that rhubarb is not something that I grew up with. The first (and only time, until now) I ate rhubarb was at a country fair while visiting Transfăgărășan mountain road with my family. I remember it was a beautiful summer day, and after reaching our destination, I was pretty hungry. On the top of the mountains, near Bâlea lake, there were several kiosks with traditional Romanian food, like bulz, a hot polenta ball filled with cheese, sheep pastrami, and many other goodies, among which I also found a wonderful rhubarb cake.
I loved its tangy taste, just a bit sweet, wonderfully accompanied by the softness of the sponge cake – it was bursting with flavor, I loved the aroma of the rhubarb. I’ve seen several recipes by Romanian bloggers that contained rhubarb, but until this year, I didn’t even think about looking for it in stores.
I really wanted to make a strawberry dessert as soon as the strawberry season started, and when I saw rhubarb at our local supermarket, I knew exactly what I wanted to make – a soft, spongey, rhubarb and strawberry cake, topped with a thick layer of meringue – pure bliss!
The sponge cake is moist and flavored with vanilla, sweet enough, and topped with strawberries and rhubarb bits, all completed with some sweet, fluffy meringue. The sponge cake is really easy to make, you just have to mix the ingredients and you’re done. I always find that cakes which require beating the egg yolks and egg whites separately are much more difficult to make, probably because I hate washing all the dirty dishes that come as a result. 😊
Even so, you need to be careful while preparing the meringue. As you know, a good meringue must form peaks when it’s ready, and you can even do the following test – when you think the egg whites are beaten enough, turn the bowl over your head, and if you don’t get meringue all over you, they’re ready. 😊 I’m just kidding, don’t do this, it’s easy to see when the meringue is ready to use without getting egg whites all over your head – the egg whites must be glossy and hold almost any shape.
400 g (3 1/5 cups) flour
300 g (2 cups) sugar
200 g (1.8 stick) butter
225 ml (0.95 cup) milk
1 vanilla bean
10 g (2 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
A pinch of salt
Strawberry and rhubarb topping
3 rhubarb stalks
300 g (10.5 oz.) strawberries
4 egg whites
200 g (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the soft butter until combined.
- Incorporate one egg at a time, mixing well after adding each egg.
- Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixture. Add the salt as well.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder, and incorporate 1/2 of the flour in the mixture.
- Add 1/2 of the milk and mix well, then add the remaining flour, mix again, and the remaining milk, and mix until well-combined.
- Pour the mixture in a buttered, rectangular, large cake tin.
- Slice the strawberries and the rhubarb, then distribute them evenly over the cake.
- Bake the cake at 180°C (360°F) for 45 minutes.
- During this time, prepare the meringue. Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the lemon juice and one spoon of sugar at a time, and mix until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- Take the cake out of the oven and spread the meringue over it.
- Bake the cake for another 10-12 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
- Let cool before portioning the cake.